Monday, June 3, 2013


I've known I was a feminist for a long time now -- since the mid-1960s at least when I read Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique.  But over the last two years, I've experienced my feminism in a new way outside of demonsstrations, politics, and essays -- singing with a woman's choir!

Yesterday, at our annual spring concert, I thought about this as the Charlottesville Women's Choir sang  songs of justice, peace and freedom.  For example, "Never sit Down" about the Suffragettes -- Elizabeth Cady Staunton, Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony -- and "Warrior" about women standing up for themselves in the face of discrimination, abuse and violence against women. 

The great thing about Feminism is that it embraced diversity and justice not only within its own ranks but also within the broader world.  So yesterday, the Choir also sang "By the Waters of Babylon"  about how difficult it is to "sing" your song in a strange land.  While it's based on a gospel song about the Israelites going into Egypt, it reminds us  of the history of American slavery, and also now -- as we think about immigration reform -- about the feelings of all immigrants coming to the new world.

In our four part harmonies, we're not always pitch - perfect but we sing with passion and heart.    And we keep working on our musicality.  Our directors from within the choir  radiate the strength of thier individual feminism in  the way they lead us through out numbers.

Expressing  politics through music is a good thing:  The medium becomes the message without a lot of fanfare.

We sing of peace and justice -- "Lo Yisi Goi" --  a Hebrew song  -- and of rejecting the false religions that teach us to hate and separate rather than "do unto others that which you'd have them do unto you."--  "I ain't afraid."

Every year our choir chooses a recipient to share concert proceeds.  this year, the recipient was the Walker Upper Elementary Choir, to whom the funds will be allocated to help pay for field trips and excursions that some families would not otherwise be able to afford.

Our audiences seem always to be appreciative, and especially heart warming are the several elderly mothers of choir members who show up.  .   . and our daughters, my own dear Margaret especially a boon as she helps us collect donations at the door of the Haven -- a stained glass church hall turned into a place of respite for the homeless of Charlottesville.  And yesterday, a sanctuary for song and celebration.

As a choir member, I especially loved  watching a small group perform "Places in the Choir" celebrating God's love for ALL his creatures - human and otherwise.  The children joined us to make this piece especially adorable and fun.

Sing, my sisters, Sing on . . .

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